Itinerary: Vietnam – Central Vietnam, 12 June – 18 July 2012

I had the opportunity to be part of a study abroad tour, and lived in central Vietnam for a bit. We did some cool side trips, so I will be reviewing those.

12 – 18 June: Hanoi

19 – 28 June: Hue

29 June – 01 July: Hoi An

02 July: Hue

03 – 11 July: Dong Ha

12 – 13 July: Dong Hoi

14 – 15 July: Dong Ha

16 – 17 July: Hue


Vietnam – Hoi An, 24 December 2004

The day began with a day trip to My Son, some Cham ruins which are marked as a UNESCO world heritage site. On the way there, the bus got stuck enroute, because part of the orad there collapsed, leaving a 1m gap. But with the usual Vietnamese nonchalence, the driver overcame the obstacle shortly.

Before we were led towards the ruins of My Son, we were led to watch a cultural show put up by ethnic Chams. What fascinated me was how the dancers looked as if they just came out of the drapery hanging behind them! And of course, the star of the show was an old man, who could blow the trumpet continuously for at least a whole minute. Fascinating!

Expectations is a terrible thing (or rather, deceptive photography). Due to how My Son was photographed I always imagined the ruins to be much larger in size, but well, the largest standing one was at max only 20m, though it is definitely magnificient when you view it against the backdrop of imposing mountains, which were magical for the Chams. (I think it’s known as Mt. Meru)

Another interesting thing about My Son are the bomb craters, remnants of the American War in Vietnam. War really takes much from everyone, and in this case, the pride of Cham heritage, as many of the temples were shattered, with rampant looting, especially the heads of the gods.

Opting for a more luxurious cruise back to Hoi An rather than a bus ride proved to be wise, as I got a leisurely ride down the quiet river, with friendly Vietnamese waving from the shores. And though I didn’t want to pay to visit the craft villages, it was rather nice to read my novel on the swaying boat in the afternoon.

Evening plans for a Christmas eve meal were dashed by the shock of the news that Steve committed suicide. God bless his soul, though I really really wish to know that it’s otherwise, or perhaps I could have done something to pre-empt that. Maybe he’s not dead? I really hope so.

Traditional Cham Dance.jpg

Cham Performance


Complete Lingga

Reconstruction after Destruction from Vietnam War.jpg

Americans used My Son temples as target practice

Vietnam – Hue to Hoi An, 23 December 2004

I must be UNESCO world heritage site hopping, from Hue to Hoi An, whose historic town is marked as a UNESCO world heritage site.

I think I can safely declare Hoi An as my favourite place in Vietnam. Apart from being quaint, with many sidewalk cafes sometimes housed in old houses, it’s also relatively peaceful, with little hustling. People here are not so mercenary, and apart from these, I heard that there’s a nice beach within cycling distance. Accomodation here also often comes with in-house swimming polls, and that comes cheap starting at US 6 per night for a single room.

Although I don’t find the historic town very special, as it seems to be a simple Chinese town to me, I guess it’s unique in the Vietnamese context, as it doesn’t exist in other Vietnamese towns. The conservation work is great though, and their Museum of Trade Ceramics is neat and manageable.

One thing that strikes me is the number of tailors/clothes shops and cafes/restaurants in Hoi An. It’s almost as if these were the only two things that the people are involved in, not that I’m complaining, since I spent my evening sipping cocktails and chomping fries while reading my newly acquired, Vietnam-pirated Bridget Jone’s Diary. How outdated I can be with popular fiction.

However, my experience in Hoi An was marred by the 3 blackouts in the night, worsened by my inability to kill the greedy mosquito that left me with more than 10 itchy bites.

Hoi An Boats.jpg

Hoi An Boats

Japanese Covered Bridge.jpg

Japanese Covered Bridge

Cantonese Temple in Hoi An.jpg

Cantonese Temple

Vietnam – Cambodia, 14 December 2004 – 01 January 2005


14 December 2004: Hanoi

15 December 2004: Hanoi

16 December 2004: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Cat Ba Island (Bus, Boat)

17 December 2004: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Sapa (Boat, Bus, Overnight train)

18 December 2004: Sapa

19 December 2004: Sapa

20 December 2004: Sapa – Hanoi (Overnight train)

21 December 2004: Hanoi – Hue (Overnight bus)

22 December 2004: Hue

23 December 2004: Hue – Hoi An (Bus)

24 December 2004: Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An (Bus, Boat)

25 December 2004: Hoi An – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City (Bus)

26 December 2004: Ho Chi Minh City

27 December 2004: Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh

28 December 2004: Phnom Penh

29 December 2004: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap

30 December 2004: Siem Reap

31 December 2004: Siem Reap

01 January 2004: Siem Reap